England assessed: Where Hodgson’s team will finish in Group D
With the pressure well and truly off England ahead of the World Cup in Brazil, anything could happen in a group containing Italy, Uruguay and surprise package Costa Rica.
Will the Three Lions roar to a top-of-the-group finish? Can they continue their fine recent record of making the Second Round? Or will England crash and burn as some have predicted?
Read on to find out all the odds and information you need to make your own mind up as to where the national team will finish in their very own group of death.
The Three Lions have never finished bottom of a World Cup group, making this difficult to back, but the order of the fixtures does offer hope to the pessimistic punters, with England facing tricky tests against Italy and Uruguay before their final fixture against Costa Rica.
Defeats to the Azzurri and South Americans, coupled with a positive Costa Rica result in either of their two games, could see the Central American nation go into the last fixture with more to play for.
A more likely scenario for England would see the Three Lions just miss out on qualification, which is possible given the tricky games ahead. In Italy and Uruguay, Roy Hodgson’s team face the finalists of Euro 2012 and the Copa America holders, with both enjoying recent World Cup pedigree.
England look likely to play for a draw against the Italians who will also favour a stalemate in the opener. A draw or loss to Uruguay could then set up a third place finish, regardless of whether they beat the Central American underdogs.
The Three Lions boast an impressive track record of finishing runners-up in their group at a World Cup finals, having qualified for the second round with a second place finish in three of their last four World Cups.
With tricky fixtures against Italy and Uruguay to come, one potential scenario could see England claim five points – something they have done at the last three World Cups – and sneak through, provided one of either Italy or Uruguay beat each other and Costa Rica.
After coming out on top of a group containing France, Sweden and hosts Ukraine at Euro 2012, Roy Hodgson will be confident of upsetting the odds yet again. In truth, were it not for a last-gasp Landon Donovan goal, England would have topped their group in South Africa.
It could all come down to the first group game – beat Italy and England could even afford to lose to Uruguay and top the group, with an opening defeat potentially sending the Azzurri into a tailspin of the likes previously seen in 2010, when they finished bottom of their group.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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